Watch Out, Ridley: Werner Herzog's Gertrude Bell Film Starring Naomi Watts Hoping To Shoot In The Fall

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by Simon Dang
May 20, 2012 10:45 AM
10 Comments
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Ridley Scott, eat your heart out. Or, maybe a shoe is more appropriate here? Werner Herzog is set to beat out Scott with his own biopic of famed British explorer Gertrude Bell set to begin production this fall.

The whole rat race began last February when Herzog teamed with with Naomi Watts for "Queen Of The Desert," a "Lawrence Of Arabia"-esque epic based on the life of Bell -- a traveler, writer, archaeologist, explorer, cartographer, and political attaché for the British Empire at the dawn of the 20th century. Soon after, though, it was noted that Scott was developing his own biopic of Bell, which had Angelina Jolie eyeing the lead role.

Little else had been heard from Herzog's project since then, but it now seems be moving forward quicker than ever with producer Cassian Elwes (Cannes duo "The Paperboy" and "Lawless") unveiling plans for a fall shoot with Watts still on board. Scott, meanwhile, has "Prometheus" on the brink of a massive summer release, and "The Counselor" due to shoot this summer, but as recently as last week the director expressed hopes to follow the 'Counselor' up with his Bell biopic. Will Herzog's news change things at all? We'll have to wait and see.

Either way, Bell's story is certainly one worth exploring on the big screen: along with T.E. Lawrence, she's credited with playing an instrumental part in the founding of the modern states of Iraq and Jordan, and installing their first rulers, King Abdullah and King Faisal. Renowned for her extensive travels, explorations and mapping of Greater Syria, Mesopotamia, Asia Minor, and Arabia, Bell was also highly regarded by the British government and had a major influence on imperial policy-making -- a very unusual concept at the time considering her gender. [Deadline]

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10 Comments

  • Molly Baker | November 11, 2012 6:13 PMReply

    I hear that R. Pattinson is to do T. E. Lawrence ... interesting. I wonder if Robert knows that he carries the same surname as Gertrude's paternal grandmother, Margaret Pattison Bell, daughter of Hugh Lee Pattinson and wife of Sir Lowthian Bell. Possibly good karma at work here ... or an omen of the kind that used to bemuse Gertrude.
    Too bad a more in depth level of research has yet to be undertaken (and only partly touched upon in the bios that have been written about her) for the incredibe and compelling story that could be possible in a GLB movie. It should be undertaken as a series (for TV) for just the scope of her adventures and the numerous and very fascinating characters that she associated with. It would make the "Downton Abbey" series look meager (itself a pale imitation of what really went on at its Highclere Castle venue, where T. E. Lawrence once visited Aubrey Herbert, his Arab Bureau companion on a trip to Kut to ransom English soldiers captured by the Turks.)

  • Jeffrey P. Ackil | August 26, 2012 12:39 PMReply

    Have had my own Gertrude Bell movie planned for over two years. Been in talks with Shekhar Kapur in directing. Watch IMDB for ,”The Desert Queen” the story of Gertrude Bell. A epic motion picture with a large budget and cast to match. Written and produced by Jeffrey P.Ackil.

  • PLD | August 14, 2012 4:54 PMReply

    Why should Ridley Scott be worried? If he ever gets to the Gertrude Bell biopic and Angelina Jolie is still cast, his project can be equally if not more awesome. He's in his 70's and trying to work as much as he can before old age sets in.

  • Denny Layne | June 29, 2012 3:39 AMReply

    Actually, Herzog did not come up with the idea... it was pitched five years ago to an associate of his, subsequently posed (stole) the vision. now they pretend to be archaeological geniuses and Middle East historians...scumbags with egos (you know who you are).

  • Duddi | May 20, 2012 2:45 PMReply

    It looks a bad idea to have two movies from two geniuses with the same subject and especially with the same character... this reminds me of same thing happening back on 1992 and having same protagonist "Mr Scott" - Two Christopher Columbus movies were made (and btw both of 'em sucked...) hope this doesn't happen again, even thou i would like to see Herzog doin' this in the end, cuz Scott has a shelf full of projects, and Herzog could still deliver something like Fitzcaraldo or Aguirre...

  • KitCon | May 20, 2012 1:11 PMReply

    There's enough material for both Scott and Herzog and their styles are very different. I imagine Scott's will be more epic.

  • Huffy | May 20, 2012 11:28 AMReply

    Good news. Scott could probably get 20x the budget but I imagine that Herzog's take on the subject will be far richer in ideas and vision, especially considering this sounds right up his alley.

  • penny | May 20, 2012 5:42 PM

    Huffy, I completely agree.

  • Benny | May 20, 2012 11:20 AMReply

    i hope herzog's project will make in the end... he came up with the idea first and i would also be happy for naomi. her upcoming projects look very good so far!

  • Oogle monster | May 20, 2012 11:15 AMReply

    I like that Watts is working more and choosing interesting projects... especially following the awfulness that was J. Edgar and Dream House.

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